Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

28 June 2007

Door-to-door Sales

A man came to my door today and knocked quite loudly. Truth be told, he woke me from a nap I had just settled down to about ten minutes prior And Ma in her kerchief and I in my cap... Anyway, he was hocking security systems. They do that door-to-door nowadays, doncha know? Maybe it's because I was off-guard (having just awakened), maybe it's because he was so darn persistent, maybe because it really is about time I got a security system for this house before I have to leave it all by itself again for an extended period of time, but I took the bait and signed on the dotted line with this guy. The contract—get this—is for a whopping thirty-six months! I don't think I've ever committed to anything for thirty-six months. I mean, even college doesn't count. You can change majors or cut classes or drop out, even. Three whole years of security monitoring, paid monthly. It's a long (gay) marriage.

Today, I'm reading a book called The Queer Renaissance: Contemporary American Literature and the Reinvention of Lesbian and Gay Identities. I like it, for the most part. The author, Robert McRuer does this thing—a lot of intellectuals do it—where he makes up a word by combining two words. It drives me crazy. People do it all the time in academic prose and you've probably seen me do it once in a while (shame on me). Like this, from page 39 of the book:
A Boy's Own Story and Zami: A New Spelling of My Name were both published in 1982, when the cultural phenomenon I call "the Queer Renaissance" had only just begun. Through an examination of these two very different coming-out stories, I want to flaunt the ways coming out has been reinvented in the Queer Renaissance as a myth of queer (op)positionality.
See what he's doing there with (op)positionality. He is able to discuss the queer subject's positioning of him- or herself at the same time he is able to call to our attention the fact that this position is created in opposition to an already present normative (and contrary) position. Writers do it all the time. (This same writer keeps saying "an/other" too.) I'm not sure why this device bugs me so much. Anyway, it does bug me. Maybe because it feels like a kind of pun: something the writer thinks is funny or clever but at which I can only groan.

I took this book to the coffee shop with me to read today, but I also took a book of plays because I get so tired of reading only scholarship all the time. I need some plays in my life to help me swallow all of that difficult theorizing. So I took this book Fruit of Your Loins by Carl Morse with me to the coffee shop. And I turned it over just in case a passerby might happen to glance over at the table and see the book. I didn't want anyone to freak out if they saw the cover. It was rather closety of me, but I couldn't help it. The coffee shop is with the lord and I don't want to upset anyone innocently reading The Screwtape Letters. Sheesh! Maybe I'm regressing.

This afternoon I watched Ugetsu, a Japanese ghost tale from the 1950s. I liked it fairly well. It didn't have the fun technical flourishes to which I've become accustomed from clever 1950s filmmakers like Jean-Pierre Melville and Satyajit Ray, so I have to admit I was a little bored. Or maybe it was the story, which is a kind of conventional lesson-learning tale about greed. It was no Kon Ichikawa movie, that's for sure. (Have you rented The Burmese Harp yet? If you want a good 1950s Japanese film, go for that one.)